Virginia Derby Day Nominations Set for September 9 Closing Day Card at Colonial Downs

Six Stakes Worth $1.3 Million to be Contested

(NEW KENT, Va. August 28, 2023) –The 20th running of the G3 New Kent County Viginia Derby – showcase event on the September 9 closing day card at Colonial Downs that also includes five additional turf stakes – attracted a total of 38 nominations including nine from the Todd Pletcher stable. The 1-1/8 miles Virginia Derby carries a $500,000 purse, up $200,000 from 2022. All six stakes, with combined purses of $1.3 million, will be drawn on Wednesday September 6.

Among Pletcher’s contingent are LSU Stables’ Far Bridge and Spendthrift Farm’s Major Dude. The former won the G1 Belmont Derby July 8 and before that, had back-to-back seconds in a pair of G2 stakes – the Pennine Ridge at Belmont and American Turf at Churchill. Most recently, the English Channel colt finished third in the G1 Saratoga Derby Invitational. The latter has already bankrolled $754,645, aided by a trio of stakes wins in the G2 Penn Mile, G3 Kitten’s Joy at Gulfstream and the G3 Pilgrim. The Bolt d’Oro colt most recently finished fourth in the G2 Secretariat Stakes held at Colonial August 12. 

The first- and second-place finishers in the Secretariat Stakes have been nominated. A neck separated Iapetus Racing and Diamond T. Racing’s Virginia-bred Gigante and Little Red Feather Racing, Madaket Stables and William Strauss’s Nagirroc at the wire in a thriller. After Pletcher’s pair, Gigante and Nagirroc hold the third and fourth highest bankrolls of all nominees with $737,000 and $506,550 respectively. The latter is trained by Graham Motion, winner of two straight Virginia Derbies in 2019 and 2021, who nominated three (the Derby was not held in 2020 due to Covid).

 Virginia-bred Gigante (inside) edges Nagirroc in the G2 Secretariat Stakes August 12 at Colonial Downs (Coady Photography) 

Chad Brown has three Derby nominees including Klaravich Stables’ Program Trading who is 3-for-3 and fresh off a win in the G1 Saratoga Derby Invitational. The English-bred also prevailed in a maiden special weight at Monmouth and in a Belmont allowance. 

Brad Cox nominated two including Godolphin’s Wadsworth who has a pair of stakes wins at Ellis Park – the American Derby and Kentucky Downs Preview Dueling Grounds Derby. The Quality Road gelding is 4-for-9 with earnings of $411,886.    

The featured undercard stakes is the 14th running of the $250,000 Woodford Reserve Virginia Oaks which attracted 38 nominations. The 1-1/8 miles turf test is for 3-year-old fillies. Graham Motion nominated the most with six including RyZan Sun Racing and Madaket Stables’ Mission of Joy whose resume includes a pair of G3 stakes wins in the Regret Stakes at Churchill and Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs. The Kitten’s Joy filly is 4-for-7 with a $293,317 bankroll.

Black Type Thoroughbreds, Swinback Stables, Steve Adkisson, Christopher Dunn and Anthony Spinazzola’s Sacred Wish finished second by a neck in the G1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga July 22. The Not This Time filly also had a runner-up finish in the Gulfstream Park Oaks April 1.

The $150,000 Biosaphe Colonial Cup, a 1 ½-miles turf race and new this year to the Virginia Derby Day lineup, has attracted some intriguing contenders among its 41 nominees including seven who have reached the winners circle in G1 or G2 stakes in 2022 or 2023. 

Trinity Farm’s Red Knight has competed in three straight G1 events and captured the first of that trio – the Man o’ War at Belmont May 13. Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Speaking Scout was best in the G1 Hollywood Derby last fall at Del Mar. Among the nominated G2 winners are James and Donna Daniell’s Offlee Naughty; Three Diamonds Farm and Pura Vida Investments’ Stolen Base; NBS Stable’s Spooky Channel, Michael Dubb’s Therapist; and Paradise Farms and David Staudacher’s Temple. 

A total of 35 turf sprinters have been nominated for the $150,000 Korbel Da Hoss Stakes to be contested at 5-1/2 furlongs. Patricia’s Hope’s Nobals has collected impressive wins this year in the G2 Twin Spires Turf Sprint at Churchill and in the G3 Troy Stakes at Saratoga. The Larry Rivelli trainee has earned $843,274. Michelle Lovell and Griffin Farm’s 7-year-old Justin Phillip gelding Just Might has also been nominated. The million-dollar earner won the 2021 Da Hoss, one of four stakes in New Kent in which he has competed.

A pair of $125,000 stakes for two-year-olds round out the under card – the Exacta Systems Rosie’s Stakes at 5-1/2 furlongs and the TAA Kitten’s Joy Stakes at 1-1/16 miles. A total of 43 have been nominated to the former and 36 to the latter. 

High earner amongst the Rosie’s nominees is R.A. Hill Stable, BlackRidge Stables, Swinback Stables, Big Tufff Stables and Black Type Thoroughbreds’ Amidst Waves. The George Weaver trainee has captured back-to-back stakes and currently has earnings of $194,000. The Midshipman filly won the Colleen Stakes at Monmouth July 29 and the Bolton Landing Stakes at Saratoga August 20. Impressive as well is Paradise Farms Corp., David Staudacher, Kevin Haynes and John Huber’s Ship Cadet who has a win and two seconds in three stakes appearances.

Repole Stable’s Noted, a Todd Petcher trainee, is most prominent among the Kitten’s Joy nominees. The Cairo Prince colt won the $206,000 Sapling Stakes August 26 at Monmouth which followed a maiden special weight score at Saratoga one month earlier.

About Colonial Downs

Colonial Downs Racetrack, in New Kent, Virginia, hosts live thoroughbred racing on two nationally renowned surfaces – the Secretariat Turf Course, the widest turf course in North America at 180 feet wide and on a 1 1/4-mile dirt track, second in length to only the world-famous Belmont Park. The Colonial Downs Group, which is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN), also operates Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums® in Richmond, Hampton, New Kent, Vinton, and Dumfries which offer innovative historic horseracing (HHR) gaming technology and full card simulcasting as well as Rosie’s Game Room in Collinsville, which features a limited selection of some of their best HHR titles plus full card simulcasting. The 2023 live racing season, which consists of 27 days from July 13 through September 9, is highlighted by the Grade 1 Arlington Million, Grade 1 Beverly D. and Grade 2 Secretariat Stakes on August 12 and the Grade 3 New Kent County Virginia Derby on September 9.  The Beverly D. is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win & You’re In” race.